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Full text of "A mother's parting words to her soldier boy [electronic resource]"

[A NI5W TRACT FOU S0LDIEK3 .] IV©. 18. 

A MOTHER'S PARTING WORDS 

TO HER SOLDIER BOY. 



My Dear Sos:— 

At the^time of our separation, my heart was too ten- 
derly and deeply' affucted to permit me to give utterance to the 
words of affectionate counsel, which I longed to pour into your 
ear. My mingled emotions oflove, grief, and anxie.ty could 
find vent only iti tears. Bat I have concluded in this manner 
to transmit to you the words of instruction, warning' and encour- 
agement, which I should have preferred to speak to you with 
my lips, had not the feelings awakened by your departure for 
the army, overpowered my self-control. You need not be told 
that I love you, that I cherish a deep solicitude for your welfare, 
and that my happiness is bound up with your prosperity. I 
have a claim to your attention which I am sure your filial af- 
fection will not allow you to disregard. 

I gave up my son, without reluctance, indeed, I may say 
with joy, to enter the army of his country. The war in which 
wc are unfortunately involved, has been forced upon us. We 
have askedfor nothing but to be let alone. We are contending 
for the great fundamental principle of the American Revolution : 
that all authority is derived from the consent of the governed. 
The attempt on the part of the Federal Government to coerce, 
not, as it is falsely pretended,' a factious partf, but free and 
independent States, governed by unprecedented majorities, is 
utterly subversive of republican government. The question to 
be settled ;by this conflict is, whether the Confederate States 
shall be permitted to govern themselves, or whether they shall 
be governed by States whose political views, and social institut- 
ions, are widely different, from their own. To the South no- 
thing remains nut absolute subjugation and debasement, or 



2 

victory. la such a strife, I cheerfully offer my son, the cher- 
ished jewel of my heart, on my country's altar ; and if I had 
tea son.-;, I would resign them all with equal pleasure. I trust 
that mv son will act the man. Fighting, as he is, for indepen- 
dence, home, honor, everything dear to the heart of a freeman, 
he would be unworthy of the soil that gave him birth — the laud 
of patriots and heroes — the father whose name he bears, and 
the mother who nursed him, if he should not prove himself to 
be loyal and brave. Let me ir-ge you, then, my son, to be what I 
am sure you- will be, a good soldier. Obey the commands of 
your superiors, be courteous to your equals, and be kind to the 
distressed, even to your enemies, so far as you may be without 
strengthening, the cause in which they are engaged. 

But I Write to you chiefly, my boy, to impress on your heart 
the importance of enlisting under the banner of the Cross. 
The searcher of hearts knows that my greatest desire is, that 
■you should be a sincere and consistent Christian. I have feebly 
endeavored by my instructions, prayers and example, to win you 
to the service of Christ. You may have thought it strange that 
I have conversed directly with you so little concerning your 
religious state and destiny. I desire to confess to you, and with 
shame before God, my deficiency in this respeet. I have ever 
found a difficulty in speaking to my children on the subject of 
saltation, arising from I know not what else but timidity,' that 
has caftsed me great sorrow, and especially since you have pas« 
sed to the dangers of the tented field, and beyond the reach of 
ray anxious, beseeching words. Forgive me this wrong, and ac« 
cept this communication as the best atonement which under the 
circutn-tances, I can offer. I feel now, that if I could see you, I 
would, from the fulness of my fond and burdened heart, eu treat 
you in such words as follow: 

You did not cease to be a moral agent when you became a 
soldier. Assuming new responsibilities to your country, you 
did not weaken your responsibilities to God. "¥ou should not 
only render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's but unto 
God tb9 things that are God's. Many good and intelligent 
raea have maintained that a. profession of arms is incom- 
patible with a life of piety. It must be conceded that the genius 
and spirit of Christianity are utterly opposed to war. Christ 
?s the Prince of peace ; at his birth the heavenly host sang 



TO HEE SOLDIER BOY. 3 

"peace on earth;" the Gospel is n message of peace, and its un* 
iversal diffusion and influence will banish war from the earth, 
Isa. 11.2-4. But a eareftdexi miration of the Scriptures must 
convince us, that there is nothing in the demands of a just and 
defensive warfare at variance with the spirit and duties of 
Christianity. To say nothing of Moses, Josliun and David, who 
were renowned alike for their piety and their military achieve- 
ments, we find that several Roman Centurions, in the very sun- 
light of the Apostolic age, were commended for their faith de-' 
votion, and good works. Lu. VII, 9. Acts X. John, the fear- 
less harbinger of Christ, exhorted the Roman soldiers, not to 
abandon their standards, but. to avoid the vices incident to their 
profession. " Do violence," said he, "to no man, neither accuse 
any falsely; ar.d be content with your wages." Lu. Ill, 14. I re- 
fer to these texts for the two fold purpose of confirming my 
views, and leading you to consult the Scriptures, the only safe 
guide in faith and practice. 

There are great and appalling obstacles in the way of your 
conversion amid the din and temptations of a camp. The lack 
of religious instruction, and of opportunities for retirement and 
secret prayer, together with the excitements and corrupting 
influences which attend a soldiei's life, are serious but not in- 
superable hindrances to piety. Without abating one iota from 
his duties to the country, the soldier may find time for religious 
meditation, secret prayer, and the consecration of himself to 
Christ. Two young men, I have been credibly informed, at the 
close of the battle of Bethel, were so impressed with the Divine 
goodness in their preservation, that they retired to the forest, 
and made a full, solemn and joyful surrender of themselves to 
the Prince of peace. 

Let me urge you then, my dear son, to make it your first, 
chief, cons'ant concern to become a Christian. God demands no 
thing but a willing heart. In the hour when you are willing to 
forsake all your sins, and to receive Christ as your Prophet, 
Priest and King, you shall find mercy, and there will be joy iu 
the presence of the angels of God over you. Christ never reject- 
ed a repenting sinner, and he never will. Ah, my sob, if you 
have no soul to save, — no sins to be forgiven, if Christ did not 
die for you, — if there is no Heaven, no hell, no immortality, — 
then yon may live withou-t repntance and si'vation. But yen 



4 a mother's parting words 

have a soul — you are a sinner — Christ shed his Wood for you — 
you are immortal, and destined to the joys of Heaven or the 
woes of perdition, and therefore, religion is your surpreme ne- 
cessity, You have motives to piety, not only as a man, hut as 
a soldier. Of all men the soldier has the greater need of piety 

Under the privations and hardships of camp life, he greatly 
needs the consolations that nothing hut ginee can minister. 
And, what but grace can preserve him from the seductions to 
vice by which so many promising soldiers have been ruined ? 
He is in frequent peril of losing his life, and should have that 
constant preparation for death, which can be found only in sin- 
cere devotion to Christ, Let me urge you then, my child, by 
all the tenderness of a mother's love, by all the anxieties of a. 
father's heart, and by, what should have more influence with 
you, all the compassion of the Redeemer's bosom, to enlist un- 
der the banner of the Prince of life and glory. 

You must, my dear boy, be a Christian or suffer a sad and -ir- 
reparable defeat. You may, without faith in Christ, storm cit- 
ies, win battles, achieve fhe independence of your beloved coun- 
try,' and gain imperishable renown ; but you cannot secure the 
kingdom of Heaven. Mohammed promised Paradise to all wlo 
should" lose their lives in his war; but Christ does not promise 
eternal life to them that fall in the battles of their country. 
Hct^at would win a crown of life, must gain a victory over sin. 
The kingdom oi God must be taken by storm; but it can be 
stormed only by faith, and prayer, and obedience. "The king- 
dom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by 
force," It is not reasonable to suppose that God will accept 
the services rendered to Caesar for those due to himself ; or, 
that patriotism should be a substitute for piety. The heroic, 
but ungodly soldier, may till a grave honored by a nation's 
tears and marked by a towering monument ; but his soul, alas! 
must perish, 

I would have you, my son, not only to be a Christian, but to 
honor that sacred name. Wake the Bible your constant com- 
panion — prayer your delightful employment — and the glory of 
Christ the the end of all your deeds. Seek to be adorned with 
all the graces of the Spirit, and to abound in all the fruits of 
righteousness. Keep aloof from all the vices which corrupt and 
degrade the army. 1 need not warn you against profanity, that 



TO HER SOLDIEll BOY. O 

common but ill bred sin, which you have been taught to detect; 
but I would specially guard you against drunkenness, that 
most insidious, pievalent and dcgarding -vice. I would hare 
you abstain from strong drink as you would from henbane. 
All experience has demonstrated that it is never neccessary 
but as a medicine. All tWe toils, exposures and privations of-a 
campaign may be endured without it, and better without it than 
with it. • 

I am sure, my child, you will not be a worse soldier for being 
a good Christian. Piety will not make you effeminate or 
cowardly. Some of the bravest soldiers of the world have been 
humble Christians. Cromwell, Gardiner and Havelock, thun- 
dei bolts of war, were as devout as they were heroic. Our own 
illustrious Washington maintained the claims of Christianity, 
amid the demoralizing influences of the Revolution, with a zeal 
corresponding with the heroism with which be fought the battles 
of our independence. Yfhy should not the Christian be cour- 
ageous? He has less cause to love life or dread death than other 
men. In the path of duty he has nothing to fear. Life and death 
may be equally pleasing to him. The apostle Paul, in the pros- 
pect of martyrdom, could say : " 1 am in a strait betwixt two, 
having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ ; which is far 
better, — nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for 
.you: 1 ' 

And now, my dear soldier boy, 1 must take leave-of you. 
Remember that you have a large share, in my love, my sym- 
pathies, and my prayers. By day and by night, you are in my 
thoughts : and often the unbidden tear flows down my check 
when I think of your sufferings and dangers. Let me have joy 
of you, my son, and I can have no greater joy than to hear that 
you are doing your duty— >-y our whole duty — to your country 
and to God. 1 trust we shall meet again. I pray the Father 
of mercies to cover your head in the day of battle. Should life 
be preserved though the perils of the camp and conflict, andyou 
be permitted to return in triumph to your home, I need not 
assure you that you will find a welcome, and that your presence 
will diffuse a sunshine over our domestic" circle ; and among all 
the loving hearts that will greet your return, none will be so 
thrilled with delight as your mother's. And should you come 
back to my fond embrace, not corrupted and degraded by the 



6 THE SERVANTS PRAY FOR YOU. 

temptations of camp life, but purified and adorned by the gratis 
of the gospel, in answer to my poor prayers, then I can exclaim 
with the patriarch Jacob, when he heard that his favorite son, 
Joseph, was living, and raised to the Viceroyship of Egypt,. "It 
is enough !" But should you fall in the stern conflict for your 
country's rights, you will fill an honored grave ; and I humbly 
trust that, through the grace and righteousness of our Redeem- 
er, we may meet in a world, where wars and rumors of wars 
can never disturb us; but where love, peace, "and joy, forever 
reign. It shall be my earnest endeavor, as I entreat you that 
it may be yours, to be meet for a participation in the delights 
and glories of that world. Receive now the blessing of your 
own and only 

Mother. 



THE SERVANTS PRAY FOR YOU. 

A respected Baptist Minister of Alabama, thus writes: . 

As is my custom, I preached to the colored people in the af- 
ternoon of last Lord's day, and after the sermon I called upon 
William Pitts, servant of Col. D. A. Boyd, to close the services. 
He arose at the call — as he always does ; and after a few re- 
marks, complimenting the sermon and exhorting the cocgre- 
grrtion to heed the warning given, he stated that there was an- 
other matter about which he would like to speak to them. 
He then stated that some of their masters and young masters 
had gone off to the wars, and that they were exposed to many 
hardships and sufferings ; that some of the soldiers were poor 
and needy, and he wanted to do something for them ; that he 
had conversed with others, and he desired every one to throw 
in a little, if it wasbuta dime. 

William then referred to the recent battle of Manassas, and 
spoke of the wounded and slain in a most feeling manner. But 
the most touching of all washisrefr-rence to his master William 



THE SERVANTS TRAY TOR YOU. ( 

— the gallant Lieut. Win. D. Pitts, who fell ia the engagemcut. 
lie spoke of having raised him; of the many conversations they'd 
had together.; of his feelings when he now looked over his plan- 
tations, and witnessed the sadness and deep mourning that now 
filled the hearts of his weeping servants. During his remarks, 
there were to be heard groans and sobbing all arqund, and tears 
to be seen flowing freely from many eyes. So much feeling, I 
have seldom witnessed on any occasion. At the close of 
his remarks there wasa general rush to the table— and, in half- 
dimes and dimes, they contributed five dollars and sixty-five 
cents. 

Late in the afternoon, an old woman belonging to Capt, 
Clark, who was not at the church, having heard what was done 
there, came, to my house and handed me fifty cents — stating 
that she could not be at church, but "felt like s^e wanted to 
do something for the poor soldiers." 'She spoke of how tender-- 
ly some of them had been raised, and how she felt for them 
when she heard of the hardships they had to suffer. She then 
told me much about hermaster, and how she prayed that he 
might be bought back safe, &c. 

It is due to the colored people to state that but very few 
knew that an effort would be made to raise means to help on tire 
the war, and consequently many were unprepared to do any 
thing. Indeed, I did not know it myself : I only knew that the 
subject had been spoken of by a few individuals. 

And now permit rne to say, in conclusion, that I have wit- 
nessed more feeling in behalf of the company that left this 
place, among the colored people when prayer has been offered 
for them in their afternoon meetings, than I have seen among 
the whites. They are feeling deeply for their masters who 
have gone in defence of the country, and are praying for their 
safe Return. 



CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 



1 Soldiers of Christ, arise, 

And put your armor on, 
strong in the strength which God supplies 
Through his eternal Son ; 

2 Strong in Hie Lord of Hosts, 

Aitd in his mighty power ; 
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts. 
Is more than conqueror. 

3 Stand then in his great might, , 

With all his strength endued ; 
But take, to arm you for the. tight, 
The panoply ' u-C pod .; 

4 Tli a*, having all tilings done, 

And all your conflicts past, 
You may o'ereome, through Christ alone, 
And stand entire at. last. 

^5 From strength to strength go on, 
Wrestle, and fight, and pray 
Tread all the powers of darkness down, 
And win the well-fought day. 

fl Still let the Spirit cry 

In all his soldiers, '-Come," 

Till ChFstthe Lord descend from high 
And * .lire ih< eowpK-rors hom<»